Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the WritersWeekly.com Winter, 2012 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the WritersWeekly.com Winter, 2012 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the Winter, 2012 24-Hour Short Story Contest. In case you’re not familiar with our quarterly contest, this is how it works. On the date of the contest, at start-time, we send out the topic for that specific contest to all registered entrants, while also posting it online. Entrants then have 24 hours to write and submit their stories. The stories “must deal with the topic in some way to qualify” and they must not exceed the pre-assigned word count.

After reading the entries for each contest, we can see how difficult it is to come up with a unique plot when working with an assigned topic. But, inevitably, a few writers do manage to successfully break away from the pack.

So, today, hear distant cracking as you step out onto the ice…

THE WINTER, 2012 TOPIC

Blue ice stretched to the horizon, fading into the blinding rays of another waning winter sun. She shivered violently as the shifting mass groaned under her feet. She instinctively glanced down, looking for cracks under the transparent sheen. Suddenly, she tensed and dropped to her knees. Desperately clawing at the ice, she screamed…

Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…

Here are our notes about common themes that emerged from the last contest.

– Many characters found their own faces staring back at them in the ice.

– Many stories had characters with frozen tears.

– Several stories took place in outer space, on other planets, or in mythical times.

– There were lots of time travel stories.

– Many characters had a trusty dog by their side.

– Common things found under the ice were jewelry, keys, and lottery tickets.

– The characters in most of the stories were ice skating, playing ice hockey, ice fishing, skiing or mountain climbing.

– There were a handful of mermaid stories.

– Several stories were told from the point of view of an animal or inanimate object (fish, bird, an iceberg, and even Antarctica itself!)

* Despite the rule specifying otherwise, we always get a handful of stories where a character is named Angela or Angie.

* Also despite the rule specifying otherwise, we always get a few stories where the main character is a writer or a journalist of some sort and some of them are dealing with writing for a short story contest. Those stories are particularly disappointing because we see so many of them during each contest.

As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is. These include:

* We find out at the end that the entire story was just a movie/TV scene/play or we find out the first scene of the story (usually the topic itself) is from a movie/TV show/play.

* The reader finds out at the very end that the main character is actually dead (is a ghost or spirit of some sort), or that the main character has dementia. We always get several retirement home or other senior citizen stories.

* The main character dies at the end, and is met by a loved one or an angel of some sort.

* The story is dramatic but you find out at the end that the characters are really children playing make-believe or that the main characters are actually animals, not people.

* A common fairy tale or other well-known tale is the basis of the story.

* Well-known historical, fairy tale or cartoon character is featured in the story.

* The story either begins with a dream or you find out at the end that the story was all a dream.

Links to the winning stories appear here: http://www.writersweekly.com/contest/winter12winners.html

The Spring, 2012 contest will be held on April 28, 2012.

Each contest is limited to 500 entrants and they usually fill up so don’t delay if you want to enter.

You can see the complete list of 85 prizes, and sign up, here: http://www.writersweekly.com/misc/contest.php

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